It is generally agreed that the surname Austin is derived from Augustine which is a diminutive of the Latin name Augustus (majestic, dignified). Saint Augustine (354-430 AD), while the Bishop of Hippo, formulated a set of rules or canons for living an austere, monastic life. These rules were later adopted by various groups of religious individuals who took vows of poverty, obedience and chastity, and formed orders or societies intending to live this lifestyle. One of these orders, the Order of St. Augustine, founded in 1256, became known as the Augustine Canons, later shortened to Austin Canons then later to the Austin Friars by the 13th century.
Most authorities agree that the surnames Austin, Austins, Austen, Austing, and Auston evolved among the populace from association with these Augustinians. Two of the earliest Austins found in the early English records were Augustinius de Bernardeston (1224) and Austinus de Beston (1230). These are Norman names, and are derived from place names (the French preposition de denoting "being of or from"). By the 13th century there were more than a dozen coats-of-arms recorded for Austin families in the English counties of Kent, Surrey and Norfolk.